Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Charges Against Three Individuals In Virginia, Ireland, And Australia For Their Roles In Running The “Silk Road” Website
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, George Venizelos, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), Brian R. Crowell, the Special-Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), and Toni Weirauch, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (“IRS-CI”), announced today the unsealing of an indictment against ANDREW MICHAEL JONES, a/k/a “Inigo,” GARY DAVIS, a/k/a “Libertas,” and PETER PHILLIP NASH, a/k/a “Samesamebutdifferent,” a/k/a “Batman73,” a/k/a “Symmetry,” a/k/a “Anonymousasshit,” in connection with their alleged roles in operating “Silk Road,” a hidden website designed to enable its users to buy and sell illegal drugs and other unlawful goods and services anonymously and beyond the reach of law enforcement. JONES was arrested in Charles City, Virginia, on December 19, 2013, and was presented in Richmond, Virginia in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia today. DAVIS is believed to be in Ireland. NASH was arrested in Australia on December 20, 2013, by the Australian Federal Police in Brisbane, Australia. All three individuals are alleged to have conspired to run the Silk Road website with Ross William Ulbricht, a/k/a “Dread Pirate Roberts,” a/k/a “DPR,” a/k/a “Silk Road,” the alleged owner and operator of Silk Road, who was previously arrested in San Francisco, California, on October 1, 2013, pursuant to a Complaint filed in Manhattan federal court.
According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court, and the Complaint previously filed against Ulbricht:
From about January 2011until October 2, 2013, the “Silk Road” website hosted a sprawling black-market bazaar on the internet, where illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services were regularly bought and sold by the site’s users. During its more than two-and-a-half years in operation, Silk Road was used by several thousand drug dealers and other unlawful vendors to distribute hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services to well over a hundred thousand buyers, and to launder hundreds of millions of dollars deriving from these unlawful transactions.
Ulbricht, the owner and operator of Silk Road, ran the website with the assistance of a small support staff, including both site administrators and forum moderators. The site administrators were responsible for, among other things, monitoring user activity on Silk Road for problems, responding to customer service inquiries, and resolving disputes between buyers and vendors. The forum moderators were responsible for, among other things, monitoring user activity on discussion forums associated with the site, providing guidance to forum users concerning how to conduct business on Silk Road, and reporting any significant problems discussed on the forums to the site administrators and to Ulbricht. Ulbricht paid the site administrators and forum moderators salaries ranging from approximately $50,000 to approximately $75,000 per year for their services.
JONES and DAVIS worked as site administrators on Silk Road. NASH worked as the primary moderator on the Silk Road discussion forums. JONES, DAVIS, and NASH were each paid salaries by Ulbricht for their roles in connection with Silk Road.
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JONES, 24, of Charles City, Virginia, DAVIS, 25, of Wicklow, Ireland, and NASH, 40, of Brisbane, Australia, are each charged with one count of narcotics conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison; one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; and one count of money laundering conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and its New York Special Operations and Cyber Division, as well as the outstanding investigative work of the DEA’s New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force, which comprises agents and officers of the DEA, the IRS, the New York City Police Department, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (“ICE”) Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), the New York State Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, Office of Foreign Assets Control, and NY Department of Taxation. Mr. Bharara also thanked the ICE-HSI Chicago-O’Hare office for its assistance and support, as well as the Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Office of International Affairs. Additionally, Mr. Bharara praised the foreign law enforcement partners whose contributions to the success of the investigation and prosecution have been invaluable, namely, the Australian Federal Police, the Irish Republic’s Computer Crime Investigation Unit of the An Garda Siochana, the Reykjavik Metropolitan Police of the Republic of Iceland, and the French Republic’s Central Office for the Fight Against Crime Linked to Information Technology and Communication.
Mr. Bharara also noted that the investigation remains ongoing.
The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Serrin Turner is in charge of the prosecution, and Assistant United States Attorney Christine Magdo is in charge of the forfeiture aspects of the case.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.